Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guns for self defense, again?

Yesterday I had an exchange with one of my commenters about why he chooses to carry a loaded gun around with him everywhere he goes. You can see it here. This man is quite certain that his gun will only be used when he needs it to shoot a burglar or someone who he thinks is going to do him harm. This happens rarely as I often mention on this blog. In fact, what happens more often is that the very gun purchased to use for self defense or maybe hunting or recreational shooting, ends up getting used against you or someone you love or know. Guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill. Some gun owners are careless and cavalier with their guns. They think nothing could possibly happen to them. Until it does.

So today, here is an incident I ran across on the Ohh Shoot blog. This blog is keeping track of stupid, dangerous and sometimes tragic incidents that happen with guns, mostly legally owned guns and sometimes those carried by legal gun permit holders. I don't know what evidence is needed by my readers to understand that the facts show more guns in the hands of more people carried into more public places equals more gun deaths and injuries. But I digress. Let's look at this awful story from the article above:
Police said Connellsville man was arrested Sunday after he accidentally shot and killed his cousin with her own gun after she told him it wasn't loaded.
Jeremy Hamborsky, 24, was free Monday on $50,000 bond. State police in Uniontown said he faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The suspect's family said Kylie Marie Sage, 23, and her friend were sitting in a pickup truck with Hamborsky and his girlfriend when the shooting happened shortly before 2:30 a.m. in Bullskin Township.
Police said the vehicle was parked on North Bell View Road, and Sage was showing Hamborsky a gun she bought earlier in the day.
Police said Hamborsky told them that he was sitting in the passenger seat when Sage handed the weapon to him. He asked her if it was loaded and, after she said it wasn't, he moved the pistol's slide and the gun fired a shot, police said.
Family for both Sage and Hamborsky confirm the two were cousins and were very close.
"It's one of those things where we all have to stick together, help each other through this," said family friend Dan Martucci.
"It's very difficult just knowing what happened, knowing both families. It's very sad to know both families are going to go through a lot of hard times right now," said Clarissa Peterson, who knew Sage and Hamborsky. "I know they were very close, so it's sad."
Martucci said the woman believed in self-protection and was permitted to carry a gun.
The woman bought the gun for self defense and was a gun permit holder. And now she is dead. Now she won't be doing things with her cousins any more.

I would suggest that we start by dealing with the facts and not with Wayne LaPierre's famous rants such as "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". He is wrong, of course. LaPierre and the corporate gun lobby have it wrong about a whole lot of things concerning guns and gun deaths. But I digress. From this article, we learn some actual numbers, not made up numbers:
A new paper from the Violence Policy Center states that “for the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the total number of self-protective behaviors involving a firearm by victims of attempted or completed violent crimes or property crimes totaled only 338,700.” That comes to an annual average of 67,740 — not nothing, but nowhere near the N.R.A.’s 2 million or 2.5 million.
Readers can judge for themselves whether the V.P.C. or the N.R.A. is likely to have better numbers. The V.P.C. used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The N.R.A.’s estimate is the result of a telephone survey conducted by a Florida State University criminologist.
The V.P.C. also found that in 2010 “there were only 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm” reported to the F.B.I.’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Compare that with the number of criminal gun homicides in the same year: 8,275. (That’s not counting gun suicides or unintentional shootings.) Or compare it with the number of Americans killed by guns since Newtown:  3,458.
As the V.P.C. paper states, “guns are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.”

Just for "fun" I think we should watch the NRA's Wayne LaPierre rant again:

Mr. LaPierre, what do you say to the friends and family of Kylie Sage? She is dead because she bought a gun for self protection and a permit to carry and thought her gun was unloaded. Was she a good "guy" with a gun? Was the person who shot her a good guy with a gun? Do people who buy guns know enough about them to understand how they work? Do permit holders actually know what they are doing when they carry loaded guns around in public places? Have we made absolutely certain that everyone who carries a gun is going to be careful with that gun? Have we made sure that there is a really good reason for people to carry guns in public places? The answer is clearly "NO". Instead we are making sure that people who shouldn't have guns get them anyway. We have made sure to loosen conceal and carry laws so more people are carrying in public when they don't need to. Why? The corporate gun lobby. Follow the money. If more people are scared by the fear and paranoia coming from Wayne LaPierre, they will go out and buy guns. Profits speak louder than reality.

So then, we know that guns kill people. We know it's rare for a gun to be used in self defense. We know that actual people are being shot every day by guns bought legally to be used in self defense. These shooting incidents include homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. We can see the evidence. Then where is common sense? Why do our leaders continue to let the corporate gun lobby get away with their deception? Too many people are dying every day. This is a national public health and safety epidemic. Just read the regular blog by Joe Nocera of the New York Times. There are 20 shooting incidents listed in his current post. One could be a self defense shooting but that is yet to be known. Several are domestic, one accidental, quite a few drive-bys, some gang related. This should not be happening in our communities. It doesn't happen in other countries except for those at war or in political battles such as that going on now in Egypt.

Three things need to happen in order to reduce and prevent gun deaths and injuries. Laws such as universal background checks, need to be passed to make sure people who shouldn't be able to own or carry guns don't get to do so. We need to look at the laws "already on the books" (conceal and carry and Stand Your Ground) to re-examine their efficacy and safety and reconsider some of their provisions. And third, we need to re-think the whole American gun culture and decide if what it has become is what we want or need in order to keep our communities free from the gun violence that is so devastating. It's time for a change. What we are doing now is plainly not working. Surely we are better than this.


Thanks to Laci for sending me this article about a Utah gun owner and "self defense":
Unified police Detective Jared Richardson said the homeowner heard someone about 1:30 p.m. upstairs in his home near 4300 West and 5940 South, grabbed a semi-automatic handgun and headed up to investigate.
Richardson said the man encountered a robber in the front room taking apart electronics.
The two then had an argument, which escalated into a physical confrontation. Ultimately, the homeowner ended up on the ground with the suspect on top of him, Richardson said.
At that point, Richardson said the homeowner fired his gun, but missed the suspect. The suspect then grabbed the gun and fled.
Police said they’re looking for a Latino in his early 20s, about 5 feet10 inches tall with a slender build. He was wearing khaki pants, a black button up shirt and had a short buzz cut and possibly a mustache.
So much for a gun for self defense in the home and/or to use to stop a robbery. How could this have turned out differently? A home security system? Making sure all doors were locked? Calling the police and going outside instead of encountering the burglar? As we can see, the gun idea didn't turn out well and the home owner was actually lucky he was not injured or killed by his own gun.


  1. The problem is that you can produce as many facts as you want to people who are fact adverse, they will not change their opinion.

    Anyway, you forgot this study from the University of Pennsylvania which estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun:

    I sent you a news story about the robber wrestling a gun from a Salt Lake County homeowner and then running off with it on facebook.

    Guns are not the "best method of self-defence". The topic of firearm retention is one that anyone who seriously uses a firearm needs to know.

    The gun lobby knows that when there is a realistic tracking of the information that their nonsense will be shown up for what it is, which is why they block studies by the CDC and NIH. And their reason is even more transparent in that they say these studies "will be used to promote gun control".

    The problem is that the "pro-gun" side has very little justification for its position, which means that there is really no reason that politicians should kow-tow to them instead of choosing public safety.

    Although, if the pro-gun side keeps shooting itself, they may self-eliminate any opposition to gun control.

    1. Thanks, Laci. I will post the article.

    2. What I don't get is why is it that you want us to run from our homes? Why must we constantly be told to retreat in the face of criminality? I don't know the details of this story, but for one, if he fired his weapon in most states, he'd have to have been threatened, even in his own home - that's a standard I can live with and its one shared by most police agencies.

      I am not assuming you're pro criminal, but doesn't it stand to reason that if you're engaged in the business of burglary, you accept that grievous harm might come to you? Isn't it better that would be criminals have the fear of being harmed so as to make them less likely to commit such crimes? Id rather a criminal think twice about entering my home, which has alarms and 2 very large dogs, but where I used to live, it wasn't uncommon for home invaders to enter hot (homeowner home) and inflict maximum carnage, in spite of such measures. I don't want to live in fear all the time, so this hyper security talk of running away or cowering behind locked doors inside my home is troublesome to say the least.

      At the end of the day, the decision to defend myself is my own and for all your well intentioned postings of morons doing moronic things with guns, it doesn't represent me or the millions out there who don't have incidents or accidents with their weapons. I see you call constantly for common sense and rational dialogue -

      I'm ALL for that, and even support rational considerations like background checks. Where we differ is the use of firearms for self defense or for concealed carry -- sorry, that's not an issue that you're really going to find common ground with unless its as we are pushing for - making sure the right people get CCW permits. Every state, including the District of Columbia and the City of Chicago, now has CCW on their books.

      While yes, well heeled groups spearheaded the lawsuits, citizen support was a huge factor in those gains. We aren't going away, we aren't giving up and we aren't going to allow our rights to be compromised. Rational discussion without finger pointing or emotional browbeating is something my group supports, but we do so with the grounding that we aren't willing to go backwards on individual rights.

      While we're sharing interesting articles, this one had me do a double take. Newtown, CT obviously had a terrible tragedy, yet this very lily-white, affluent (not an insult) and decidedly liberal town has doubled its applications for firearms licensure (including ccw). That's not the fault of ALEC, the NRA or small groups like mine - that's a very visceral reaction not to the tragedy, but to the laws being proposed that essentially tell the citizenry they have no rights to defend themselves, that those who do are wrong. I'll attach the article for your consideration.

      Again Joan, you'd be surprised, but we have some similar goals here. I saw way too many deaths when I served as an EMT, but more often than not, they were criminals killing criminals or worse, innocents. I know you focus on permit holders, and that's a fair thrust for what you're trying to do, but please realize there are some truly horrendous individuals out there who care not a hair for what you or I think. For that reason, I carry, for that reason, I see no reason to change.


  2. Max- Here is from this article- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-25/connecticut-republicans-slow-gun-control-in-blue-state.html " Sixty-six percent of Connecticut voters support stronger gun-control laws, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released March 6. The survey by the Hamden, Connecticut-based school showed 68 percent want a broader ban on assault weapons. The same percentage wants a ban on high-capacity magazines, according to the poll."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/newtown-gun-permit-applications_n_2909145.html " Both sides of the debate have been well represented in Newtown, a town of about 27,000. The horror of the massacre inspired a groundswell of gun violence-prevention activism by new, local organizations such as Sandy Hook Promise and Newtown Action Alliance.

    But gun ownership has long been a way of life in Newtown, which is home to the National Shooting Sports Foundation trade association.

    A spike in complaints in recent years related to gunshots, primarily about noise and fear of shots being fired, led the police commission to propose an ordinance limiting when guns can be discharged and establishing a process for the police chief to approve shooting ranges, according to Joel Faxon, a police commission member.

    Gun applicants traditionally involved hunters, target shooters and business owners, but now police are seeing a wider variety of applicants, Berkins said. Some said they never thought about getting a gun but heard their right to have one is going to be taken away, he said.

    Berkins said he wonders how many of the applicants will actually go out and buy a gun. Only a few applicants get turned down for permits each year, he said."

    And yes, I think you should retreat when you can and not enter the home if you suspect someone is inside. You can see what happened in the case I linked to. The man should not have gone in. He had other options. Yes, someone is robbing your home. We don't know if the person was armed but it sounds like he was not. He is now, thanks to the home owner whose gun was stolen from him. Yes, no one wants their home to be robbed. If the man had not come home of course, he would not have encountered the thief. Most burglaries take place during the day when people are not at home. Burglars don't like to encounter the home owners. Our house was robbed of some inconsequential items once. They broke in while we were gone for the week-end. It seemed like kids looking for drugs from what we and the police could tell. Not much damage done. Would I have shot a teen-ager for breaking into my home? Good grief. They made a mistake. For that they should die? Wow, Max. Security systems work wonders actually. That's the best way to solve the problem. It wouldn't involve having to shoot someone and you can feel very safe. I know I do. It sure sounds to me like you are living every minute in fear. What a life that must be for you. I'm sorry that you live like that. You do have a security system. You don't need your gun. You must really be expecting something bad to happen, I sure hope it doesn't and I sure hope you will be OK. Oh- by the way, my son and daughter-in-law's home was broken into during the day when they were at work. Computes, jewelry, social security cards, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. were stolen from them. They now have a security system but no guns. They have small children. They never even gave buying a gun a second thought. The advice from the police was a security system and some extra locks on their garage door and sliding door entries.

    You seem to think that a human life is pretty expendable. Does someone deserve to die over stuff? I don't think so. They deserve to serve time in jail and deal with the consequences. Pro-criminal? Ridiculous.

    We are not going away either, by the way.

  3. Well, it's a good thing my rights are not subject to the whims of polling data- this is after all, a constitutional republic. But in all seriousness, don't worry about me- I live wonderfully in spite of a horrid economy and can still hold my head high as I provide for and protect my family.

    I never said I'd shoot someone over material possessions- in fact, I support legislation that reserves any form of deadly force only for when lives and safety are at stake. That's why I have alarms and dogs- because I'd rather not have to harm someone- but if one is willing to go past these measures and still pose a threat to my family or myself, then he or she has invited such consequences on themselves. Make no mistake, I'd take no pleasure in it, but if it came between us and the individual who violated the sanctity of our home, then I will give them a fight. I will never let someone scare me into running from my home.

    I am happy your loved ones are safe. When the kids who broke into a home not far from where I grew up, they brutalized an elderly woman for her painkillers shed been taking since her hip replacement....I'm not even advocating she gave a gun, what I am advocating is that communities do more than accept the idea that thrives are non violent and want only to support their addictions- it's better if folks like this are wary of being confronted by a citizen willing to act in crisis, as opposed to chalking it up to an insurance claim.

    Again Joan, I do respect what your goals are inasmuch as violence prevention, but I think you insultingly misrepresent the vast majority if us who do the right thing and wish only to have our rights respected.

    Sleep well


    1. Your rights are not in danger. I do not agree with your views of the world. I am actually, Max, representing the majority of Americans and gun owners who have said in poll after poll after poll over many years that they agree with background checks on all gun sales and other reasonable expansions of current gun laws. This is all about reducing and preventing senseless shootings. If you can't agree that 30,000 gun deaths a year are too many and that we should do nothing then there is nothing more to talk about.

      I do almost always sleep well.